Amy Tries Again


AFL Adventure – or – Amy Finally Goes To The Football
June 20, 2010, 5:41 PM
Filed under: In Which I Try Again | Tags: ,

Hell hath frozen over.  Last night, gentle reader, I went to the football.

But wait!  Before you all fall over in a collective faint, I must advise you that I didn’t actually go to the football that I said I’d be going to.  I had planned to investigate some rugby league and attend a game at Suncorp Stadium, it being my local, so to speak.  Last night found me, however, at the Gabba, watching the Brisbane Lions boldly battle the Richmond Tigers.

It wasn't actually like this.

Yo Gabba Gabba!

The reason for this change of plan?  My lovely assistant, Courtney, won tickets through her work.  It was a sign.  I had been putting this Try Again off for long enough.  It was time to get amongst it.  After a quick google to make sure we weren’t accidentally wearing the other team’s colours (black and yellow, like dear little bumblebees!), we actually went to the football.

Despite the fact that it wasn’t at ‘my’ stadium (I live quite close to Suncorp Stadium – aka the former Lang Park), the stadium still had a bit of personal significance.  You see, the Gabba was the stadium I used to live close to (I have quite a knack for living by stadiums close to the city, for some reason).  Its lights used to glare annoyingly into my bedroom window on game nights.  Neighbours would sell parking spaces in their backyards.  (Our motley sharehouse would think about such a magnificent money-making scheme, but it would have involved returning our collection of trolleys to the IGA, so we always decided against it.)  You could hear each whistle, each siren, and each team song.  Despite this, I had never been inside the stadium.  This probably explains why I was often so puzzled when hearing said team songs – France was playing?  Again?  (I have since learnt that the Lions’ club anthem is set to the tune of La Marseillaise, which explains a great deal.)

I was excited.  I was to learn exactly what had been going on at the stadium on all those evenings.  Although I’d seen the crowds heading for the game many times before, I was still surprised at how many people were there.  Unsure what gate to go to, we swam upstream against a river of people.  I clutched my handbag tightly (I am mildly paranoid about robbers).  We thought we’d finally found the right gate.  We hadn’t, but they let us in anyway.

I was a little surprised about how lax the security was.  I had expected metal detectors, sniffer dogs, random bag searches.  I won’t make any jokes about the suitability of the venue for untoward behaviour on the off-chance that dear Senator Conroy is a regular reader, but it wasn’t what I was expecting for a building full of tens of thousands of excited drunk people.

Anyway.  We pressed on, clutching our tickets for dear life as we searched for section 27.  Behind the crowd the background started repeating like a cheap cartoon – toilets, snack bar, glimpse of field, exit, repeat.  The atmosphere struck me as somewhere halfway between an airport and the Ekka.  We acquired some beer in plastic cups before realising we were in an unlicensed section and had to stand in a special designated area to consume it.  After we’d had our beer and finally found section 27, we couldn’t find our row.  It simply didn’t seem to exist.  Three different sets of creepy old men kindly volunteered seats next to their inebriated selves (we are, after all, comely lasses of virtue true).  An official-looking man told us we had to go upstairs.  The man upstairs told us we needed to go outside and re-enter through the corporate gate.  Then a loud buzzer sounded and the crowd stampeded towards exits, beer and toilets.  Was it half time already?  Could this be?  Surely it’d only being going for about half an hour?

Luckily, I had a vague recollection of there being a football show called ‘The Fifth Quarter’.  I cunningly deduced that if this hilarious impossibility was referring to the robust intellectual debate that takes place after AFL, then all hope was not lost, and we had only missed a quarter of the game wandering around.  Finally, wonderfully, we located the corporate gate, the middle tier part of section 27, and our seats.  My airport metaphor was appropriate.  We had just been bumped to business class.  Legroom!  Cupholders!  Permission to drink alcohol at our seats!

What I’d glimpsed standing in the beer zone behind the seating downstairs suddenly made a lot more sense.  With the addition of a little height, things looked more like the games I’d caught a few seconds of before changing the channel.  The stadium was vast – but not as vast as I’d thought it would be.  I was surprised at how close the players were.   I realised how thrilling it must be for supporters to see their favourite players, usually characters on tv, right there.  Football was real.  I couldn’t change the channel.

I do not feel I am qualified to comment on what happened on the field in great detail.  Some men in different colour uniforms did things with a ball.  Sometimes they kicked it into the air.  Sometimes they grabbed it out of the air and crashed on to the ground.  Sometimes they kicked it between four posts.  If they kicked it in between the outer posts, that was pretty good, but if they kicked it in between the inner posts, that was really good.  Courtney pointed out Brendan Fevola, and this pleased me because I had actually heard his name before.  We shouted ‘Fev!’ when everyone else did, although I’m not sure if he’d done a good thing or a bad thing.

I’m exaggerating, but only a little.  The scoring system puzzled me somewhat, but I did get into it and it was quite exciting when someone tried to catch a ball and just missed, or kicked the ball away from someone when you didn’t think they’d be able to.  We cheered for the wrong team on a few occasions, but it was all very jolly.  I didn’t have a team scarf or anything like that, but I felt a split-second of real solidarity when I remembered that my sports-hating father once gave me a Brisbane Lions hat as a joke when I announced my intention to bugger off to the other side of the world.  I was a merchandise owner, too!  This was MY TEAM after all!

I dug it out when I got home, and was very pleased. I wasn't pleased enough to wear it, but that's not really the point.

After a really wonderful fight between quite a few of the players, it was interval – sorry, half time.  This was all about advertising, both on the giant screens and via banners (that were trotted out during each break, even the short ones).  Small children were sent to play little miniature football games on the field.  They had the requisite too-large jerseys, gap-toothed smiles and, in some cases, pigtails (well done, sister suffragettes!).  It was very endearing, and I am going to suggest to Impromafia that during the break for our next longform show we slap our logo on some children and have them do some shortform while most of the audience goes to the bar (actually, I’m only half joking.  Maybe they could do it in the courtyard.  Hmmm…).

Awwww.

As the second half of the game began, my interest level in the actual game waned a little, but the novelty of being at a football game was quite enough to sustain me.  The whole experience was genuinely foreign to me, so it was quite fascinating.  I was amused by small things (as usual) – the four bright stadium lights gave each player four shadows, which looked a bit like they each had a small helicopter flying directly over them.  Some men in fluro shorts and shirts kept dashing out onto the field, but I don’t think they were the referees (they were in green and weren’t on the field with the players).  The mystery was partially solved when we saw a fluro man handing a note to a player.  Was he a courier?  We tried to figure out where the commentators were sitting, and decided it was probably in the large, highest-up box.  Musings of this nature occupied us for some time.

3/4 time. I only took this because I am mature and found the public deep-tissue massage rather amusing.

Eventually, it became apparent that the game was lost (not a surprise, according to this website).  Sadly, my right glove suffered a similar fate.  I didn’t really mind about either.

We escaped when there were two minutes left on the clock in order to beat the crowds.  This plan backfired somewhat when we realised that approximately half the people in the stadium had had the same idea.  Swept out on the wave of the crowd, we were a little shell-shocked.  We had been to the football.  We had cheered.  We had seen people actually wearing giant inflatable hands.  We had paid $9.50 for some chips and a bottle of water.

After getting on the wrong bus (it was at the Gabba busway on the platform that usually goes to the city.  I don’t think my presumption that it would be city-bound was entirely unrealistic, but there you are), there was little to do but contemplate the experience.

So did I enjoy myself?  Yes, very much indeed.  I’m pretty sure it was the novelty factor, though.  The actual game wasn’t the focus for me, I was too busy playing Amy Goes To A Football Match.  The atmosphere was quite fun once we were safely in our seats, but the crowds were a bit too intense before and after the game itself.

I would do it again, but not very often.  I was on safari, observing the odd behaviour of another tribe, and that was where the interest lay for me.  Still, I think I’m going to go to the rugby in order to render my experiment complete, as that’s what I originally planned.  Of course, that could open up a can of worms where I have to attend a game of every code of football possible, and I’m not sure I’m up for that.  Too many vuvezelas.

So: football (well, AFL): SUCCESSFULLY TRIED AGAIN.

Phew.

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